Tag Archives: growing up

Self-inspired

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1) Whatever it is, it’s part of a bigger picture. Assume you have no idea what that picture looks like.
2) People are good, even when they mess up (including you).
3) Every person has value. (You aren’t omniscient – don’t expect to see it.)
4) If you truly believe in something you will never ever give up on it. Ever.
5) There are people who care about you – always.

I wrote that a year and a half ago after finishing one of my favorite books: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I was looking through my old blog this morning and found it, and realized that it still has a lot of meaning to me. Imagine that. I can relate to something I wrote. But it was me then, the past me, who doesn’t know the things I know now. And yet, sometimes the simplicity of organic thought is able to pervade time.

I was born with an uncontrollable urge to constantly control everything. It has been a slow process learning that I can’t, and that trying is really exhausting and not very rewarding. I have trouble opening my fists and letting what may happen may, desperately clenching onto things I shouldn’t. Not physical things- I don’t keep much ‘stuff’ around, but things that people say to me, my relationships, those looks of contentment and resentment you get from people who think you didn’t notice. I don’t have one of those “f you’ attitudes, as much as I wish I did, as much as I pretend I do. I want closure from those feelings, those looks, those relationships. I’m slowly learning (although not there yet) that most of life won’t give you closure no matter how much you beg for it. Everything won’t be packaged neatly and tied up with a bow. It will be destroyed along the way- dropped, man-handled, pissed on by homeless people. But, you carry it with you all the same. Not because you hope that someday you’ll get your pretty little ribbon on top, but because somehow, the piss and shit you pick up along the way ends up meaning more than all the other stuff; more than the package you carried in the first place.

I’ve changed a lot in the last year and a half. I’ve learned a lot and forgotten a lot, and got pissed on more times than I’d like to remember. But, when I look at the things that mattered to me then, they still resonate now. I’m still able to feel inspired by the same things. The core of who I am hasn’t changed, although the things I accept as my own certainly have. I don’t need what I once did. The comforts I cherished, the friends I thought I would have forever. Because I’ve still got me. The things I thought I needed are replaced by new things. Life does certainly have a way of going on whether we like it or not. So, in honor of the five things I thought I knew a year and a half ago, here are some slight modifications given what I’ve learned since:

1) Whatever it is, it’s part of a bigger picture. Assume you have no idea what that picture looks like. Embrace the chaos.
2) People are good, even when they mess up (including you). Some people are also shitty. Don’t try to change them – go about your life.
3) Every person has value. (You aren’t omniscient – don’t expect to see it.) But don’t give your time to people who don’t value you back- be around people who treat with you with respect.
4) If you truly believe in something you will never ever give up on it. Ever. EVER.
5) There are people who care about you – always. Give those people your love, and let them love you in return.

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To those who hold a paddle

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One of the hardest parts about living on a different continent is the relational trauma it causes. For some, time and distance define the construct of how much another person is capable of mattering. For others, it’s as if we all live in a bizarre 1959 episode of Twilight Zone where time and distance don’t seem to exist…. another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind.

Or maybe they just know how to use the internet.

While I don’t like the feeling that I’m growing out of certain relationships and growing into others, I’m not sure why that feeling makes me so uncomfortable. It doesn’t seem realistic that through all of life’s changing tides, the person whom we chose to be our soulmate when we were in grade school would be our soulmate after life has thrashed us both about a bit. But, sometimes they still are. And sometimes, a great friend in one context turns out to be a black hole, sucking all joy out of your life, in another. (Cue Twilight Zone theme song). We grow and we change. People we once trusted break our trust and sometimes break our hearts, perhaps even forcing us into waters so rough that forgiveness cannot tread.

So, the question I’m struggling with is when is the right time to let go, to give up, to give in, to throw in the towel. I’m exhausted from trying to keep relationships afloat that would otherwise sink. How long can you be the only one paddling the boat before your arms give out?

Home is where my feet are. I realize that there’s an extra effort involved in being my friend because of that. I can’t just grab a quick cup of coffee or attend barbecues and ugly sweater parties because I’m not usually around for them. The only way people know what’s going on in my life is if they ignore the thousands of miles and several time zones dividing us, find time to not be “busy,” and embrace the technology and time differences required to stay involved. I’m constantly surprised by the people who find the effort worth it and the ones who don’t.

I have friends that I’ve had my whole life, many of whom I’ll know until death takes whichever of us first. But some of my strongest, most cherished relationships are those that are newer, but based on love and respect, and yes, a lot of effort. If that commitment doesn’t exude from both sides, no matter how long ago the foundation was set, no new growth, and only deterioration can occur.

And sometimes, I know, the best answer is to do nothing. Let those who want to walk away (or swim, for the sake of analogy) go. I’m fortunate to have so many people in my life who are committed to loving me and who will row along beside me. I should express it to them more often because I cherish my them so damn much. As for the others, well, the inescapable end that haunts us all is too close to worry about anyone unwilling to pick up a a paddle.

Day 118: 72 Things.

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I’ve clearly been delinquent on this daily posting about what I’m thankful for. I can blame it on a lot of things, but laziness wins out if you scrape all the bullshit out of the way. I majored in PR, so I’ve got enough bullshit to power a rocket to the moon and back.

After having a conversation today about my ’30 Before 30′ list, I realized I’ve done a lot in my life so far that I can be really happy about; proud of even. While I have friends with Superbowl rings and sitcoms who can toss humble pie into my face, I’m going to be proud anyway. Because good for them – I mean, really. Good for those people who have accomplished such amazing things; they’ve worked their butts off for it. But good for me too. I’ve not done too bad. You probably haven’t done too bad yourself if you think about what is really important to you. And if you haven’t done great, then get off your ass – time is perpetually running out.

While having goals is important, realizing what you have accomplished is equally so. I can’t say every moment in the last 25 years has resulted in the kind of photos that would allow me to run for office, but I’ve had a really good time being politically/socially/economically incorrect. I think life is something like 10% what you’d like to do and 90% what you actually muster up the courage to do.

Here’s my 90% so far:

  1. Swim with wild dolphins
  2. See the Grand Canyon
  3. Visit Roswell
  4. Appear on TV
  5. Kiss a stranger
  6. Help plan an event for charity
  7. See a solar eclipse
  8. Go whale watching
  9. Set free baby turtles
  10. Have a night in Vegas that stays in Vegas
  11. See the bats at Carlsbad Caverns
  12. Go to a rodeo
  13. Paint  pottery
  14. Perform on a stage
  15. Go to Disney World
  16. Pull an all-nighter
  17. Go Spalunking – that’s cave diving, people
  18. Break a bone (it was my middle finger, none the less)
  19. Get a tattoo
  20. Kiss someone of the same sex
  21. Graduate college (with two degrees even!)
  22. Ride on a trolley
  23. Sleep in an airport
  24. Have a near-death experience (coincides with the night in Vegas)
  25. Ride in a limo
  26. Build a float for a parade
  27. Go snorkeling
  28. Throw someone a surprise party
  29. Take a “hit” (I’m talking peace circles, not bar fights)
  30. Go white water rafting
  31. Go deep sea fishing
  32. Take the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  33. See an opera
  34. Go on a terrible first date
  35. Be a bridesmaid
  36. Adopt a pet
  37. Go ziplining
  38. Donate blood
  39. Learn an instrument
  40. Go to a concert
  41. Win something off the radio
  42. Go to a professional sporting event
  43. Visit the nation’s capital
  44. Ride a mechanical bull
  45. Tie a cherry stem in a knot
  46. Go skydiving
  47. Be a Big Brother/Big Sister
  48. Ride a jet ski
  49. Parasail
  50. See a tumbleweed
  51. Become student counsel president
  52. Go to a strip club
  53. Enjoy (or try to enjoy) a lapdance
  54. Ride on a party bus
  55. Dance on stage
  56. See the St. Louis Arch
  57. Wait tables for a living
  58. Build a snowman
  59. Take a roadtrip
  60. Sleep in a tent
  61. Wait in line on opening night of a movie so you’re the first one in
  62. See the Chicago Bean
  63. Build a gingerbread house
  64. Have surgery
  65. Bet on a horse race
  66. Build a sandcastle
  67. Water ski (or get drug behind a boat with water skis on.)
  68. Have a night on Bourbon Street
  69. March in a parade
  70. Be sent to the principal’s office
  71. See a shuttle launch
  72. Move to a foreign country (pending)

And I’m sure there are a lot more. But still, I’m off to an okay start. How many have you done off my list? What else have you done that you are proud of?

Day 54: Knowing When to Run

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I have an addictive personality. When I decide I need a pair of red pants, I do not rest until I have them. I go for an Oreo and end up eating the whole bag. I go out for a drink with a friend, and wake up the next morning on a couch of a friend of a friend of a friend. I go all in when I do anything. It’s a terrible, nagging habit that I wish I didn’t have.

The same is to say with people in my life. I don’t like giving up on anyone. I’ve done it before, but in most cases, I end up emailing and calling and texting like a crazy ex-girlfriend until my apology is accepted or a restraining order is issued. I have a hard time letting go of people I care about or people who I want to care about me. I hate feeling like I hurt someone’s feelings. Worse than that, I hate feeling like someone doesn’t care if I’m in their life or not.

And that’s something that really drives me crazy. To feel like someone you care about, someone that you may even love, doesn’t care if you give up on them, if you walk away. I’m not talking about walking away and turning into a pillar of salt because you never truly wanted to go. I’m not talking about making frivolous threats to get someone’s attention. I mean making the difficult decision to leave someone you care about because you fear they will never understand the way you need to be loved. Walking away because you’ve tried over and over again, you’ve given all you have, but you’re still caught in a web, having your insides sucked out. I’m talking about making the decision to stop chasing someone who may not want you, and give them the chance to run – to see if they’ll even put their sneakers on to come after you. Its a dangerous game to play.

This only seems to prove my twisted addiction for cruel forms of punishment. It’s as if I enjoy the thought of suffering from a crushed spirit. Maybe I read too much from the Buddha. Not all forms of suffering are enlightening.

“To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.” – Viktor Frankl

I don’t like giving ultimatums. In my limited experience, they shut people down and I end up with a thing I never wanted. But sometimes, you have to be able to say no, knowing what it may mean. You have to break the bad habit of making excuses for someone who doesn’t treat you right. You have to face your addiction and start your own intervention. You have to walk away, knowing that no one will come after you, but hoping that you’re wrong. And when you turn out to be right, don’t let it get you down. I think that maybe it will lead you closer to someone who you won’t have to chase at all one day.

I’m glad that I love myself enough to be able to walk away from something that isn’t good for me, for someone who doesn’t think I’m worth following. A lot of people end up running their whole lives, chasing after something that may not even exist. I’m tired of the running. I’m ready to take my shoes off and stand still for a while.

Day 50: Care Bear

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Today, I’m thankful for one of my best friends on the planet, Ms. Carrie Stribling. I could have easily written this post last week, while I was in Phoenix and staying with her and Jake. We had a great time entertaining ourselves all week, the same way we have since we were in grade school. But, after talking to her until late last night because I was upset, and continuing our conversation again throughout the day today (thanks to Voxer… you’ll get a post soon too my little voice-activated friend) I realized how valuable a friendship is that you don’t have to be physically around for.

So, let me take a minute and tell you why she’s so great. First. She works really hard. She not only works a full time job, but she also runs her own photography business, and she’s actually really good at taking pictures. I’m not saying that in an obligatory ‘she’s my friend so I have of’ sort of way. When I first saw her work I was shocked. Not because I didn’t think she was capable, but because I didn’t realize we were at a place in our lives where we  were able to be really good at something. She’s creative not just in her job, but in the rest of her life as well. She’s planning an adorable wedding, she can draw, she blogs, photographs, works for a design company… she has a vision and she makes it work. She took a risk to do the thing that she loved, even though a lot of people told her that it wasn’t a stable form of work. She started out slow, but now she has a steady stream of work, and her skills continue to grow with every shoot. You can see for yourself here.

So there’s that. The hard work, integrity thing that makes you say, “wow, that person really gives a shit about their life.” I can’t help but admire that in a person.

Second. It’s who she is as a person. It’s only fitting her “pet name” in high school was Care Bear. (Sorry, “nickname” wasn’t quite the right word there). Carrie doesn’t only give a shit about her life, but she gives a shit about other people’s too. We were joking tonight that we will always be the people that cling onto the leg of a person trying to run from us, the way a toddler does when it wants to be picked up. Carrie will always be the apologizer, even if she don’t completely understand the reason for it. Not to be insincere when apologizing, but to be completely dedicated to a friend and a relationship. And she always is. She notices when people around her are off, if only just a little. She’ll follow you to the bathroom to hold your hand when no one else even noticed you were crying. And she doesn’t tell you everything will be okay because she knows you know that. She just lets you be sad, and then she hugs you and tells you she loves you.

And I’ll end with one more – although I could go on for the remaining 90 days.

I love how much she’s able to love. I can honestly say she knows the darkest, most character-degrading deeds I’ve committed, and she loves me anyway. She’s had a hard time telling me things in the past, but she trusted enough to let me in so that I know her twisted, hard-to-tell stories too. And then there’s Jake. Soon to be husband, always to be a character. They just fit together. He’s thrust her into change (I know he’d appreciate my word choice there) and she’s made him an honest man. They’ve been through it, but she loves him so unconditionally. Little Ms. Life-Plan-to-be-Married-and-have-Babies-by-25 put in almost nine solid years and her blue print is with the engineers. Pretty soon she’ll have 14 kids and that many more to love.

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So, at risk of sounding like a complete lesbian, I just want to express gratitude for one of my very best friends, and part of my family. When I was out dress shopping with Carrie and her mom last week, her mom said that she thinks we all got to be so close because we all had brothers and no sisters. I think that may have something to do with it.

We found our own sisters in the world.

Who would have guessed our taste would have been so spot-on as third-graders. I love you Carebear. I’m so excited to see where you let life take you.

Day 42: Things that Never Change

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Today I had lunch with my oldest friend, Cassie, who I’ve  known for 19 of my 24 years. I saw her mom, who I have referred to as mom since I was old enough to tie my own shoes. It’s crazy how quickly life flies by, how much can change overnight, how fleeting each moment is. Cassie and I used to spend nearly every day of our summer together. We’d pack bags for weeks at a time and stay at each other’s houses. As we got older, went to different schools, started working and going to college, moving even farther away, we saw each other less and less. We’re not the people we ever were before. We’re lucky if we talk every six months anymore. But even so, we can sit down and chat about life, laugh about the way things used to be, and let each other in on our darkest secrets. I love that no matter time and space and how much we change, she’ll always be a sister to me.

Day 41: Sting like a Butterfly

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There’s a theory in communication called the Social Exchange Theory. It’s based on a system of costs and rewards you assign to relationships. Basically, when you feel that the costs outweigh the rewards, you terminate the relationship because you no longer get any pleasure out of it. I’ve certainly terminated a few relationships in my short lifetime. There are people who I used to be extremely close to that I began dreading being around. People who drained the optimism out of me just by being themselves. I never want to turn my back on anyone, but I don’t want to spend the limited time I have surrounded by black holes who suck the happiness out of the room either. That sounds grim, but there are unfortunately people who have that effect on me.

I know fights happen. I know that people get mad about things that don’t always make sense to others. I tend to consider myself a pretty go-with-the-flow sort of person. I tend to care more about resolving a conflict than expending the energy it takes to be upset about it. Afterall, we learn about each other through stepping on toes, hurting feelings, and punching it out. If you’re mad, there’s hope. When you become apathetic is when you should consider if a relationship has any place in your life.

I fight with my mom more than anyone else in the world. We’re finally at this magical place where we can yell and scream and get it all out, then take a breath to cool off and laugh at how ridiculous we are. When you love someone, pride has no place in your relationship – saying sorry is easy because it’s not important who is right or wrong – all that matters is that they know you love them. When you love someone, you get in the ring, take a few swings, then take a shower and buy them a latte. As long as the person gets in the ring with you, the fighting lets you get to know that person even better, it makes you closer, lets you love each other just a little more.

I have that relationship with a lot of people. Today, I realized that I’m glad that I’m the kind of person who will throw off my gloves and take a few hits, but I’m never too proud to apologize, or compromise, or do what I have to for someone I love. In the scheme of life, being right seems to be the least important thing of all.